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Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders and COVID-19

5-minute read

If you develop symptoms such as severe shortness of breath or chest pain, call triple zero (000) immediately. Tell the call handler and the paramedics on arrival if you have COVID-19.

Why are Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders at high risk of COVID-19 infection?

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and people living in remote communities are at greater risk of COVID-19 for the following reasons:

  • They experience higher rates of other health issues such as chronic diseases. Therefore, they’re more susceptible to severe illness following COVID-19 infection.
  • It can be harder to access health care because of where some live. They might only have access to minimal services and might not have enough transport. Health literacy can also vary.
  • People in the community can be very mobile and travel frequently between cities, towns and communities.
  • Some communities have a high flow of visitors who may have been exposed to COVID-19.

What can Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders do to stop the spread of COVID-19?

You can stop the spread of infection by doing the following:

  • Keeping your hands clean — wash your hands with soap and water, where possible, for at least 20 seconds. Do this after you cough or sneeze, go to the toilet, and before you make any food.
  • Coughing or sneezing into the inside of your elbow — not your hands.
  • Putting your tissues in the bin after you use them and washing your hands after.
  • Not touching your face.
  • Wear a mask
  • Cleaning surfaces, such as door handles, and kitchen and bathroom benchtops, often.
  • Not hugging or shaking hands with people.
  • Keeping away from people and family if you’re sick with a fever, cough or sore throat or are having trouble breathing — and seeking medical help if you experience COVID-19 symptoms.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people 50 years of age and older who have pre-existing medical conditions are strongly advised — for their own protection — to continue to stay home.

To keep vulnerable members of the community safe, all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people need to maintain good hand hygiene, stay home if you don’t need to travel or feel unwell, and keep 1.5 metres from people you don’t live with. Where possible, consider getting groceries or medications delivered or picked up by friends and family.

RESTRICTIONS — Use the COVID-19 Restriction Checker to find out what you can and can't do in your state or territory.

Why should Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people get vaccinated?

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have a higher risk of getting and becoming very sick from COVID-19 due to a number of factors. This may include a higher rate of chronic health conditions and in some cases crowded living conditions, which increases the risk of spreading the infection.

Getting a vaccine is one of the best ways of protecting yourself and others in your community from getting really sick or dying from COVID-19. There is also more and more evidence that vaccines help reduce the spread of the virus. Encourage your family, Elders and community to get vaccinated so that they are protected from serious illness from COVID-19. The COVID-19 vaccines are free and voluntary.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who are 5 years and older are currently eligible for COVID-19 vaccination. You can get vaccinated at:

  • Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services (ACCH)
  • state and territory-operated clinics
  • Commonwealth Vaccine Clinics or CVCs
  • participating general practices (GPs)
  • participating pharmacies

Depending on the state or territory you’re in, you may be able to book your appointment via your state or territory government’s website or COVID-19 hotline.

Learn more about getting vaccinated.

BOOK YOUR VACCINATION — Use the COVID-19 Vaccine Clinic Finder to book your COVID vaccination or booster.

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COVID-19 information in languages other than English

COVID-19 information in languages other than English

Find out where you can get information on COVID-19 in your language.

Learn more here about the development and quality assurance of healthdirect content.

Last reviewed: February 2022


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